Each time a person steps into a kitchen, they become a chemist. Whether they are actually cooking or just experiencing a meal being prepared, there are wonderfully intricate chemical interactions involved that are the backbone of how we engage with the foods we eat.
As a chemist, I find great inspiration in exploring recipes. Why do they work? How do small changes in procedures and amounts lead to changes in the final dish? What new chemistry can I learn from food the food preparation techniques that we use in our kitchens?
Food is a terrific medium for learning chemistry. It is so much more approachable to experiment with a recipe than to buy some reagents and solvents to develop new research chemistry. The perceived rigor doesn’t make the latter more “chemistry” than the former. Chemistry is such a tactile science. It is most fully experience when you can use all of your senses. You can do that in a kitchen. I would strongly warn against doing that in a research lab.
I really enjoy thinking and writing about food chemistry. I have written a book, Chemistry in Your Kitchen, that explores some of my favorite reactions and chemicals and recipes. I have written a number of blog posts and do the occasional media interview on food-related topics, too.